Eight days before Christmas 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Captain Daniel J. Callaghan, his naval aide, to suggest names for a number of authorized ships that included destroyer tenders. On 21 December the Bureau of Navigation provided the chief executive with candidates for his consideration, including one that honored the “valley and its environs in east-central California” that encompassed the western slope of the Sierra Nevada.
A week later, the fifth ship of the Dixie class, two of which were already serving in the Fleet, became the Yosemite, designated AD-19. The Navy awarded the contract for her construction on 10 April 1941. Just under eight months later, the Japanese attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet and naval, military, and air installations on Oahu drew the United States into World War II.